Friday, February 15, 2013

MOVIE REVIEW: Beautiful Creatures

This movie review for "Beautiful Creatures" was written by guest blogger Liz Parker...

Usually when I review movies that are based on books, I try not to compare them to the book versions. However, with Beautiful Creatures, I had just read the book about a week before, and so unfortunately it is impossible not to. In a surprising move, they've changed a LOT from the book version - some of which I knew of beforehand, like Amma and Marion, the town librarian, being combined to be just one character, named Amma - but most of which I did not know of previously. Because of that, the book and the movie almost seem like two completely separate entities; I enjoyed both, but in different ways.

Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) has been dreaming of the same girl every night. He can never see her face, but he knows he's never met her before. When Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) moves to town to live with her shut-in uncle, Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons), however, Ethan recognizes her from his dreams, and knows that he has to get to know her. What he finds out is that she and her family are Casters, similar to witches, and when she turns sixteen in a few months she will be Claimed, either for the Light (good) or the Dark (bad magic). Her cousin, Ridley (Emmy Rossum), who she was very close with growing up, recently turned Dark, and has been shut out of the family because of it. Lena also has no choice whether she turns Light or Dark; it will depend on who she truly is at her core. With the help of Amma (Viola Davis), the town librarian and Ethan's sort-of caretaker, Lena and Ethan research about the Curse that plagues the Duchannes women, and try to anticipate what will happen on Lena's 16th birthday.

I could go on and on about all the things that the filmmakers changed from the book, but I think that would merit an entirely separate blog post. One BIG thing though is that in the books, Lena and Ethan can communicate without being near each other (they can read each other's minds), and the movie decided to leave this out entirely. His father, too, who is a shut-in similar to Macon Ravenwood due to the recent death of Ethan's mother, was only mentioned once in the movie, and never seen; he has a much bigger part in the books. I also wasn't very impressed by the Civil War flashbacks - there's a locket that Ethan finds, and when both he and Lena touch it, they see flashbacks of their ancestors - and these are in the movie, but are very hazy and not as vivid as they could have been, in my opinion.

The filmmakers also added a lot of modern references - at one point Ethan and Lena talk about the movie Titanic - but it was usually where some comedy was inserted, so I didn't mind; the movie is a lot more comedic than the books and it actually fit in rather nicely. The cinematography in the movie, too, is beautiful - as it should be, since the South is very photogenic. The show stealers are actually Jeremy Irons as Macon, Lena's uncle who is also a Caster, and Emma Thompson as the mother of one of Ethan's friends, and also the woman whose body Lena's mother inhabits in order to do magic; because of this, Thompson has two very different roles, and she plays both very well.

Yes, see this film. The ending is completely different from the book as well, and I was about to be very unhappy about it, but then they saved it in the very last scene. I almost wish I didn't read the book before seeing the film, since it's so dissimilar, but it was good to have a bit of background about the characters since a lot of info is left out. I also really liked the music throughout; it's all by only one band, and it suited the scenes perfectly. The ending left the movie open to a sequel, and the book series has four books in it; I wouldn't mind seeing more of Lena and Ethan on the big screen sometime soon, and if Beautiful Creatures does well at the box office, it has the possibility of being the next Twilight.

Beautiful Creatures is in theaters now and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 124 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.

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Liz Parker is a University of Michigan graduate with a degree in Creative Writing and Literature, and she loves going to the movies. Visit her at her movie blog Yes/No Films
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